High blood pressure affects nearly half of US adults. But the shocking number of people with high blood pressure is the least problematic aspect.
High blood pressure has earned the nickname “the silent killer” because the condition rarely comes with warning signs. Many people with hypertension don’t realize they have it until it’s become dangerous to their health.
Because high blood pressure and its complications can catch you unawares, Dr. Michael Skardasis and our team at Optimal Performance Medicine in Woodstock, Georgia, want to ensure that you know what you could be up against. Here are the dangers of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure raises your risk for heart problems
Our primary concern with hypertension is how it affects your cardiovascular system. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessel walls endure excess force when your heart beats.
Over time, the stress damages your arterial walls, making them more likely to develop plaque buildup. As plaque accumulates in your arteries, your blood vessels can narrow, leading to an increased risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD) and aneurysms.
Plaque buildup can also lead to blood clots, which can travel through your bloodstream, restrict blood flow to your heart or brain, and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Additionally, hypertension means your heart is working overtime to pump blood, which can cause the walls of your heart to thicken. This thickening of your heart makes it more difficult to keep up with the demand. Eventually, your heart can fail.
High blood pressure can cause chest pain
As blood struggles to travel to and from your heart, you can develop chest pain (angina). You may notice pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest when you walk uphill, climb stairs, or exercise.
High blood pressure can damage your kidneys
The blood vessels surrounding your heart aren’t the only ones at risk. High blood pressure is a threat to the arteries that lead to your kidneys as well. Weak arteries affect your kidney’s ability to function properly.
High blood pressure can change your vision
Even the smallest blood vessels in your eyes can succumb to hypertension. The pressure from within can stress your optic nerve and change your vision. Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause permanent vision loss.
High blood pressure can affect your sex life
Male sexual function relies heavily on a healthy cardiovascular system. Men with high blood pressure may deal with erectile dysfunction. Women may experience low libido due to advanced high blood pressure, although hypertension’s effects on women’s sexual health isn't well understood.
High blood pressure can lead to cognitive issues
Your brain needs steady, healthy blood flow to stay sharp. As high blood pressure takes its toll and your blood vessels constrict, you could notice issues with memory and focus. In the worst cases, high blood pressure can contribute to dementia.
What can I do about high blood pressure?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed, considering all of the dangers of high blood pressure to your health. But you don’t have to face it alone.
The best way to sidestep the complications is to catch high blood pressure in its earliest stages and take steps to lower it. We check your blood pressure and evaluate your overall health every time you see us; it’s part of every physical exam.
We immediately create a customized treatment plan when we see your blood pressure on the rise. Dr. Skardasis and our team are committed to helping our patients rely less on medication and more on healthy lifestyle changes. Depending on your needs, we may recommend:
- Limiting salty and processed foods
- Eating more fresh whole fruits and vegetables
- Prioritizing lean proteins
- Reducing saturated fat
- Losing weight
- Increasing exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Improving sleep
- Managing stress
All these changes add up to improved overall health, which can significantly reduce hypertension.
High blood pressure complications can only sneak up on you if you ignore it. Call Optimal Performance Medicine to schedule an appointment with our friendly staff, or use online booking.